FOSScamp 2017 @ Syros, Greece

Since promoting the FOSSCamp on my blog, several people have written to me asking questions about the event.

I’ve seen the great work that Open Labs has done organizing OSCAL and more recently the Cryptoparty where you had 108 people show up. Many members of the Open Labs community have been welcomed in a lot of other events and programs around the world. There is a lot of good will towards Open Labs, based on the work everybody in your community has done and that is one of the reasons I was happy to promote the FOSSCamp.

I’m worried that if discussions about FOSSCamp continue, it could undermine good will towards Open Labs and could be harmful for individuals from Albania asking for funding in future.

@kristiprogri - could Open Labs produce a brief financial report for the event, just a list of revenues and expenses, showing the funds contributed from different free software organizations and how they were used? As chairwoman, could you also confirm all the money from registration fees was put through the Open Labs bank account or managed in a manner approved by the board?

@rskikuli - you wrote that a registration fee was needed because of people canceling at the last minute. I never received any reply to my earlier questions about how the fee would be used and this makes people more suspicious looking at this thread on the Open Labs forum. Why couldn’t you simply ask people to pay some of the accommodation in advance if you were concerned about last minute cancelations?

People have also noticed that the FOSSCamp is heavily embedded into the Open Labs web site, with a dedicated web page under, a dedicated page on the wiki and the banner on the front of the Open Labs web site. The web site has the Open Labs logo but it has an Ura Design email address on it. This also raised suspicions with some people, could somebody clarify the relationship between Open Labs, Ura Design and FOSSCamp?

Some other contributors in the region have expressed concern that because of the ferry cost and the registration fee, the event was not affordable and the only people who attended were the people who could get travel sponsorship. Given the huge communities in Albania and also Kosovo, it seems disappointing that more of those people could not attend the event. Did you look at other locations where more people could afford the travel or were there other people or groups who were expected to meet you in Syros but changed their mind and did not come?

One general comment about the event: for people in full time employment to attend events like this, especially if they have to book flights from northern Europe, they need a lot more notice beforehand, maybe 3 to 4 months. In this case, the event was only announced 2 months in advance and that may have reduced the number of people able to take a week off work.

I realize people did a lot of good work at the FOSSCamp and other Open Labs events and I don’t want these questions to be demoralizing for all of you. I feel it is a really good idea to give the community some feedback about these concerns so that questions about the FOSSCamp won’t linger in future. Dealing with this openly will also help show the wider community how the organization is operating well. Even if there were mistakes, any objective de-briefing and analysis of these questions can hopefully show that the mistakes were understood and any future FOSSCamp will be bigger and even more successful.

Daniel thank you for sharing your message. To be honest, I’m very concerned about what you wrote, since in my perception your post includes some serious accusations especially when you, as a person who has visited us many times and knows how we operate, know quite well how serious our community takes financial support from any entity.
As a person heavily involved in the floss community in Albania, a person that has helped in many occasions fellow contributors get funding from floss initiatives and as one of the organizers of this activity I take these accusations very seriously! This is the first time that someone indicates in a direct or indirect way that there are concerns about the financial support of contributors that are members of Open Labs and also the first time someone mentions lack of transparency in the way we operate. The thing is that this was an event organized by Ura, not Open Labs.
Before answering I would like to ask you to kindly share the link of this post to the people you mention that have expressed concerns so that it is easy for the to express their concerns here. This will (a) be more straight forward to us and not go between a third party and (b) as you mentioned would be really transparent and help us get better. Saying there are people that are not happy with an event is quite generic.
Regarding your concerns:

  1. (again) FOSScamp is organized by Ura. This has been clear prior the event and the reasons for the fee are clearly explained. There are costs on organizing events and different setups to cover these costs. I’m sure that the reaction of the CCC organizing team to your request for a public debate about their entry fee and their financial structure would have a different and quite shorter response than mine. There was a fee also for participating in the Kotor event, where you also where present. I don’t know anyone asking about the reason of the fee, although there are reasons why the fee was there;
  2. @kristiprogri, as a board director of OLs is responsible for such issues in regard to Open Labs (not Ura) members and addresses these issues during our members meetings. The next members meeting is in about 10 days as you can see here I hope one of the members of the community raises your concerns at that meeting or a future one.
  3. if one or more organizations that have supported members of our community have concerns about the support we are receiving (which you have been supportive quite a lot by helping many members apply and use these funding opportunities) I personally would be more than happy to address these issues in the next members meeting;
  4. with our without financial support we have managed to keep the hackerspace open (some of our members including myself have put personal funds to help the situation) and grow the communities of different initiatives. it’s a weird feeling (I’m being polite) to read that there are concerns about what you are mentioning at your post. I have to say thought that the amounts we are talking about are ridiculous when the sum amount of financial support from people from many central Europe countries the last 10 years (per capita) has been quite substantially bigger. I have an idea about the reasons this happens, but this is not the place to address these concerns.

Who are these people that expressed these concerns and why don’t they contact the event organizers about these concerns? I just booked tickets for CCC and the cost is many times more expensive than going to a Greek island. Going from Switzerland to Kotor is more expensive than going to Syros (please do the math), so this is not a valid argument.

Last, but not least: I wish your concerns would be expressed in our mailing list in the first 2.5 years of the hackerspace when there was no funding around from any initiative even for stickers and promo materials for our events.


Thanks for clarifying that.

Can you please be specific, is Ura also a non-profit like Open Labs, is it a company or is it just a domain name you use personally?

There are always overlaps between different organizations, e.g. some Debian contributors also work for other companies like Ubuntu and Red Hat, this is not prohibited at all but sometimes it is helpful to be clear about it.

They have the link

I asked about this twice on 28 July and there was no response, can you please point me to the explanation about the fee?

One other point of feedback about the fee: if somebody local only wanted to come for 1 or 2 days, would they pay the whole fee or only pro-rata? Offering more discounts in future could encourage more people to participate, some people are afraid to ask if they don’t see a discount like that.

Chaos Computer Club e.V. is a non profit organization in Germany and they produce an annual financial report showing how they use the money from CCC. It is also clear that they do things like hiring a venue with that money. If Ura produced a simple spreadsheet showing how you used the fee that would probably help end the discussions very quickly.

I’m really hoping that if you can provide a little more detail here in this thread it won’t be necessary to continue the discussion for so much longer.

I realize everybody puts a lot of time and effort and some personal money into what you do at Open Labs and that is why I wanted to give you the opportunity to clear this up as quickly as possible

It’s not so much about the sums of money, it is about following good practices. Some organizations may actually want to give more money to support events in the region and so it is really important to show them how well Open Labs or Ura used the money that has already been contributed for FOSSCamp, even if it wasn’t so much.

For example, if the money was used to pay for lunches, that isn’t a big issue but as the questions were left open, it has become like a snowball.

Personally, I wouldn’t spend any of my own time on this matter at all if I didn’t want to see successful events and other efforts in the region and in Open Labs.

Can you also comment on why it was decided that Ura and not Open Labs would be the organizer?

After all, I understand you made a lot of effort to establish Open Labs as a registered non-profit and open a bank account. Did Open Labs not want to be the organizer, or was there another reason for the decision?

Hi @pocock, thanks for addressing this. When you were in Tirana you expressed similar concerns to me where I thought I was able to answer your questions. From what I see, that does not seem to be the case. Without repeating what Redon explained, let me address the points of concern.

Ura is a registered for profit company founded by me in 2014. Apart that some of it’s staff are also Open Labs members, there is no whatsoever relation with Open Labs. This was also communicated on the FOSScamp Materials where it was said it has been organized by Ura.

As Open Labs we generally dislike organizing events with participation fees or with accessibility limitations (financially and also geographically). FOSScamp is not an ideal place for beginners who want to start contributing to open source. It is a place for established contributors to gather in a more isolated unknown environment, working on projects and sharing their experiences. Going to a different place makes it neutral community wise, as no community is “in their element” and there are no roles such as hosts or guests. Having said all these, we decided to organize it as Ura, since there was no interest from other Open Labs Members to initiate it. It allowed us also for more improvising since the decision-making structure of a company is obviously different from a hackerspace.

There have been discounts for requests on a case by case basis. Also Lior, who got a ticket in the last few days got a discount if I remember correctly.

Ticket Fees didn’t sum up to more than 500 EUR in total which were used to pay for one breakfast, dinner, drinks, snacks and covering some costs for Ura staff (mostly me) for the trip. Apart individuals getting sponsored by projects, FOSScamp had no sponsor which helped in getting our actual costs covered, so ticket fees were critical for us.

As you can see, exactly concerns like these was the reason we decided to organize it as Ura, not as Open Labs. So please, if you have any concerns, address them to us. Open Labs has no affiliation to the event apart being present there. If there is any concern coming from anyone else in particular, please let us know.

P.S: I’d kindly ask you to also refrain from triple posts. That’s common netiquette on forums and mailing lists. Thanks for understanding.

Daniel you didn’t answer many of my issues mentioned. I don’t like the way you are addressing this. It feels like being accused or will be accused based on replies and I am not comfortable with this situation for many reasons with the main one being the fact that I personally worked so hard on organising many aspects of the initiative.
Again if you are not mentioning who has these concerns besides you!


Could you please make a brief summary of that in a spreadsheet table, e.g.

Ticket sales 12x 40 480
Total revenue 480

Meals/snacks (everybody? Ura staff?) …
Flight/bus/ferry (Elio?) …
Accommodation (Ura staff?) …
Accommodation (volunteers?) …
Total expenses …

Profit/loss: (Revenue - expense)

It doesn’t need to be pretty like a company P/L as it is not a lot of money, but it will serve two purposes:

  • it helps answer any questions people have asked and ends those discussions
  • it will provide a useful reference for anybody who wants to be involved in planning another event like this

Here is an example of the DebConf16 financial report

These questions are not accusations, I realize it takes effort to make a report like that but every FLOSS organization tries to do that.

@pocock again FOSScamp was NOT organised by an NGO!


And yes, if you read your thread again it seems like an accusation. I checked the dictionary and many things of what you mentioned are the definition of accusations.


It did request funding from non-profit organizations though, so don’t you think it might be reasonable to provide a brief financial report for the event?

Some people have expressed concerns, if you want to use the word accusations that is fine, but I’ve told them that Open Labs has a great record of doing things well and that I was hoping you would clear everything up quickly with the financial report for the event. The time we spent discussing it is probably more time than it would take to make the report.



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Individuals have requested funding from various projects, as an entity we haven’t had any transaction so I don’t see the logic you are using here.

You are still avoiding Redon’s questions however.

Who are the people that expressed concerns? In what way did they express them and why no one has expressed these concerns to us?


If they choose to remain anonymous but you have documented everything they asked about, does it really matter who they are?

A lot of people noticed the FOSSCamp because of my blog (it is syndicated widely), the blogs from participants and the funding requests sent to Wikimedia (which are public):

Hi everyone,

I wanted to emphasize once again that Foss Camp Syros 2017 is NOT organized by Open Labs, but from Ura Design, Open Labs was only the community support.
@pocock that means that only @elioqoshi has the right to produce a financial report with the costs of the event.
From what I read, I see that there are also other people who has concerns related to this topic, so I think that having a financial report for this would be helpful to clarify everyone who has concerns for this, especially communities who sponsored people coming.


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I won’t take that as an argument as at no point it’s mentioned WHO IS CONCERNED with that apart @pocock.
The way @pocock has been handling this is very inappropriate towards us and does not put me in a position to do something I am not required to do. Red Hat, Collabora and various other open source business don’t do public financial reports either, because it’s a business, not a non profit NGO. The single source of concern is Daniel at this point, I haven’t seen anyone else expressing this concern.

Again, projects which sponsored community members are free to reach out to us for more details but what Daniel is doing is unacceptable for me. If people sponsored by various projects see this as a blocker to justify their sponsorship, we are happy to help and give more details on it, but the only person who expressed their concerns at this point is @pocock, who was not involved with the event either.

Again, as of now I only see people who are concerned about other people’s concerns. Instead it might be helpful to see people who are actually concerned and involved in this whole discussion to voice their opinion here.

Why? This is not a personal issue, it is quite a reasonable request. It is also a lot better to clear it up quickly now than have questions about it in future when Open Labs people ask for funding again.

Actually, I publicized it quite widely with my blog post and I also referred Lior and other potential visitors to the event.

but that is not an accurate comparison. Consider the relationship between Debian (non-profit) and Ubuntu (private company). There are developers who are members of both organizations. If an Ubuntu developer used their access to Debian systems to put an Ubuntu notice on the main web site, lots of people would ask questions. If an Ubuntu developer asked for Debian funds to be given to Ubuntu as a fee for something, then people would probably ask for details.

Once again, this is not a personal issue with Elio or Redon, this is an objective request for clarification about an amount that you already said isn’t actually so much money so I’m surprised it hasn’t been clarified already.

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There is nothing else to clarify in addition to what have been said. This discussion is making the same cycle over and over again. The amounts we are talking are ridiculous and the fact that we are taking in length about this make me even more suspicious about the intentions of this debate. For many times already: this has not been organized by OLs but from Ura, which is a company and not obligated to share any financial reports. It has never been said that it will disclose these details.
Connecting this with future funding for members in order to push for this is not a good strategy and will not make any change in what has been already told.
OLs members have dedicated so much effort, time and personal funds to support other floss organizations and if these organizations use their funding opportunities as a threat than maybe it is not a good idea to contribute to them!
You are still not being clear about people that had concerns, which makes it clear that you were the only one concerned about this. I’m really curious to understand the reason.
since we are talking about the same arguments this is my last contribution to this issue.



I’ll try to make a few things straight over these requests.

  1. From the outside it looks like you guys (the open source community) do a great job in organizing events, that’s why we’re happy to both participate and help financial. And also the reason I was extra happy you host the next LibreOffice conference.

  2. Daniel raised the point of things looking differently from outside (e.g. OpenLabs vs. Ura Design) which sometimes confuses people. This has been cleared in this thread. I must admit I was surprised to see Ura Design name when I paid the participation fee. But having a for profit company is OK, but still makes people ask some questions around that.

  3. Transparency is something very valued for sponsors there should be better ways to answer this issue, even when the organizer is a for profit company. The request was for a event report, not for the company report. This will create a good name for FOSScamp and will make it likely for organizations to continue help next year.

I know then event itself wasn’t sponsored, but many participants were (myself included), and it looks like it’s an important part of the “business” model of the event, as otherwise it won’t have many participants.

  1. Daniel has been your champion in Debian, even when he asked “unpleasant” questions he is still on your side (that’s my impression).

@kaplanlior the fundamental point here is that when the funding request was sent to Debian, it was sent from “We at Open Labs Hackerspace”, not “We at Ura Design”. Ura Design was never mentioned in the funding request sent to Debian. Isn’t that unfairly leveraging the good will that exists towards Open Labs due to the hard work of so many volunteers over so many years?

In other communications I have subsequently seen, Ura Design was not referred to as a for-profit entity but as a “design collective”.

Further investigation revealed that the three people named in that funding request were actually employees of Ura Design at the time they sent the funding request. Each of them asked for the EUR 40 to be paid to their own employer. The funding request did not declare their obvious conflict of interest.

According to Wikimedia guidelines, “We support volunteer participation; participation that is tied to paid work is not eligible for funding.”. If @elioqoshi company wasn’t supporting the event on a voluntary basis, isn’t that a violation of the guidelines?

They also state in the Wikimedia grant agreement requires people to declare any conflict of interest. Why did people submitting requests to Wikimedia not declare their connection with Ura Design?

In this thread, people have made comparison to Red Hat, a for-profit company. But I would ask you @elioqoshi and @rskikuli: do Red Hat write to non-profit organizations like Debian, Wikimedia and Mozilla and ask us to pay for their employees to attend their own summit? Or do companies like that typically waive the attendance fees for their own staff or charge them internally?